AN Abuja High Court has restrained former President Olusegun Obasanjo from proceeding with plans to publish or have someone publish on his behalf, an autobiography entitled, “My watch.”
The judge, Justice Valentine Ashi of Abuja High Court, sitting I Wuse II, made the restraining order on Friday after listening to Dr Alex Iziyon who argued a motion exparte brought on behalf of a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Buruji Kashamu.
Iziyon had argued that the content of the book related to issues contained in Obasanjo’s December 2, 2013 letter to President Goodluck Jonathan and former PDP national chairman, Bamanga Tukur, where he (Obasanjo) claimed that Kashamu was allegedly a fugitive wanted in the United States (US).
He contended that since the content of the letter was the subject of the libel suit his client filed against Obasanjo, which is still pending before the court, it was wrong for the ex-president to be allowed to proceed to comment on, write books about or make publications on the issue yet to be decided by the court.
Justice Ashi, in a ruling, restrained Obasanjo from either publishing the book or having it published on his behalf by anybody, pending the determination of the main suit still pending before the court.
“The defendant, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, whether by himself, his agents, servants, privies or any other person by whatever name called and howsoever described, is hereby restrained from publishing or caused to be published in the yet-to-be published book, ‘My Watch’ or any autobiography or biography and any extracts of same, by whatever name called or howsoever titled, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice hereof,” Justice Ashi said.
The judge further restrained Obasanjo and his agents, “from further writing, printing, publishing or causing to be published or printed or circulated, or otherwise, publishing of and concerning the plaintiff, the statement contained in the Daily Sun (pages 47-49) and The Leadership (pages 3 to 8) newspapers of December 12, 2013 and which statements are alleged to have reproduced the letter written by the defendant to the President entitled: ”Before it is too late” or similar statements pending the determination of the motion on notice.”
The judge ordered the applicant to, “execute a bond with the Registrar of the court to pay such damages as shall be assessed should it turn out that the order ought not to have been granted in the first place.”
He adjourned hearing of the main suit to December 10, 2014.
Kashamu had, shortly after the content of the letter became public, sued Obasnajo for alleged defamation of character.
He argued that the defendant (Obasanjo) “maliciously and recklessly published a letter titled, ‘Before it is too late,’ which contained words which he (Obasanjo) knew to be false.”
In his writ of summons, Kashamu said the criminal imputation made against him by Obasanjo in his letter, has injured him (Kashamu).
He is praying the court to award in his favour, and against the ex-President, N20 billion for the damage he has suffered as a result of the allegation.
He is praying the court for, “an order awarding the sum of N20 billion only to the plaintiff against the defendants as aggravated and exemplary damages against the defendant for libel falsely and maliciously published by the defendant against the plaintiff in the said letter.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant, his agents, servants or privies from publishing or further publishing or cause to be published any defamatory words against the plaintiff to any person or persons; and the sum of N100 million as cost of this action”.
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